Tips for using a Child Restraint

  • Be sure to regularly check that the restraint is firmly and securely fitted
  • Ensure the harness is adjusted to fit the child as snugly as possible every time the restraint is used
  • If using a rug or blankets, ensure you fasten the harness first then place the rug over the baby
  • As the child grows adjust the restraint in accordance with its manufacturer’s instructions
  • Purchase a new restraint of the appropriate type when the child outgrows the old one. The restraint user manual will provide information about how to determine when this is necessary. 
  • The maximum capacity of the restraint must not be exceeded.

How to maintain your Child Restraint

  • Regularly check the condition of straps and buckles
  • Damaged components can often be replaced or repaired, however this will usually have to be carried out by a specialist repairer unless it is a part designed to be replaced by the user.
  • Regularly check that straps, seat belts etc are correctly adjusted
  • This is particularly important as these adjustments can alter with time and will need to be changed as the child grows.   
  • Remove and wash the material cover of your child restraint regularly
  • Many restraint manufacturers also offer replacement covers in the event they become excessively soiled or damaged.
  • Ensure that the child restraint and its mechanisms do not gather food scraps and rubbish
  • This may impair its effectiveness or function.
See our RACQ Child Restraint Checklist for advice on using and maintaining your child restraint.    

When to use an accessory Child Safety Harness

  • An accessory child safety harness, sometimes called an ‘H’ harness, can be used in conjunction with a booster seat for children aged between 4 and 7 years. They can also be used to secure a child when they have outgrown their booster seat, and must be used where only a lap seat belt is available.
  • Where only a lap belt is available the use of a child safety harness is mandatory, but we do not recommend their use with, or in place of, an adult lap-sash seat belt as they have been shown to provide no additional protection in this application and are often incorrectly fitted. 
  • We strongly recommend that, wherever possible, booster seats be used with lap-sash seat belts, rather than lap-only belts with an accessory child safety harnesses.
  • Correct usage and maximum weight capacities for individual accessory child safety harnesses will be specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Using a Child Restraint with a side or rear facing vehicle seat

  • DO NOT use restraints on rear or side facing vehicle seats. 
  • They are only designed for use on forward facing vehicle seats. 
  • It is NOT SAFE to use a restraint in a manner other than that specified

When to move your child from a rear-facing to a forward-facing restraint

Queensland legislation states the minimum age at which you can move your child from rearward facing to forward facing is 6 months.  However, the manufacturer of your restraint may specify a higher age, so you will need to consult the restraint’s user manual.

The general recommendation is that children should be kept in a rearward facing restraint for as long possible, and restraint manufacturers are increasingly offering devices that allow this.

When to move your child to the next level of restraint

  • Children must not graduate to the next level of restraint until they have outgrown their current restraint. 
  • Nor should they continue to use a restraint that they have outgrown. 
  • The restraint’s user manual will include information about this.
  • See our check list for information about transitioning from a booster seat to car seat

Child Restraints after a vehicle accident

  • If you have a child restraint that has been used in a crash, RACQ recommends that it be replaced, even if there is no obvious sign of damage.  
  • Consult your insurer as replacement may be covered by your vehicle’s insurance policy.

Old, damaged, or potentially damaged restraints should have all straps cut off so they cannot be reused, and be disposed of at a rubbish tip.

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